In the 1992 Stanley Cup Final, the Blackhawks trailed the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 in the series going into Game 4 at Chicago Stadium. After losing a gut-wrenching Game 3 1-0, there was little hope that the Hawks could come back and win the series. In the first period of Game 4, the Blackhawks showed that they weren’t dead quite yet. Captain Dirk Graham stepped up and kept the Blackhawks in the game early by scoring three goals in the first period for a natural hat trick.
Graham’s three goal heroics were only good enough to have the game tied 3-3 after one period. Ed Belfour was relieved of his duties by Dominik Hasek after a terrible defensive period that wasted Graham’s heroics. The Blackhawks went on to lose the Game 6-5, and were swept by the Penguins who won their second straight Stanley Cup. Pens captain Mario Lemieux skated the Cup around Chicago Stadium in front of crushed Blackhawks fans, the first time the Cup had been in Chicago since losing Game 7 vs. Montreal in 1971. Two of those fans happened to be my Dad and Uncle Bono (The Godfather), who had season tickets in the 80s and 90s. They both tell stories of staying for over an hour after the Hawks lost watching Pittsburgh skate the Cup around the ice, and watching The Stadium empty out. My Dad still talks about it as easily one of the worst sports moments of his life. But now in 2015, three Cups later, I think he’s feeling better.
These goals by Graham resonate because of the spirit of the 1992 Blackhawks team. Probably one of the best teams to not win the Stanley Cup. Names like Graham, Roenick, Chelios, Larmer, Goulet, Steve Smith, Belfour, and countless others. If they hadn’t run into Lemieux and the buzzsaw that was the Penguins, no doubt there would be a seventh banner hanging in the rafters at the UC. In the 1992 playoffs the Blackhawks reeled off 11 straight wins, which included sweeps of Detroit and Edmonton before losing Game 1 in Pittsburgh where they blew a 4-1 lead. Graham’s Game 4 hat trick stands as the lone bright spot from the brutally disappointing loss to the Pens in ’92.
Dirk Graham served as the Hawks captain for six seasons spanning from 1989 to 1995 when he retired. He was awarded the Selke Trophy in 1991, and would go on to coach the Blackhawks for 56 games during the 1998-99 season before being relieved of his duties. Graham played his best NHL hockey as a Blackhawk, scoring 152 goals with 191 assists totaling 343 points in his time in Chicago. His career totals include 219 goals, 270 assists, 489 points, and 917 penalty minutes.
#16 coming tomorrow…